UCL Department of Science, Technology, Engineering and Public Policy


Meet the Policymaker

Series image showing parliament, reading Meet the Policymaker 2021, Autumn 2021, 6 October to 1 December 2021

The world of policymaking can be a ‘black box’ for many. Who are policymakers and how do they actually ‘make’ policy? How are experts selected for advisory committees? Who can influence policy decisions? Questions like these can make engaging with policy seem a daunting task to take on as a researcher.   

The Policy Impact Unit organised a series of lunchtime seminars series to provide UCL researchers and students with an opportunity to hear first-hand from professionals working in a range of policy roles, including in Government and its agencies, Parliament, Local Government, and in Europe. During the sessions, attendees heard what it is like to work in a policy role, learnt more about how research evidence is used in policymaking and heard how researchers can get involved.  


Working across Government, Academia and Industry: The Role of the NCSC in UK Cyber Security

Speaker: Anna G, Strategic Research Lead, Sociotechnical Security Group, NCSC

In this session we will be joined by Anna G, Strategic Research Lead in the Sociotechnical Security Group at the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and Technical Lead for RISCS (Research Institute for Sociotechnical Cyber Security. The NCSC aims to help make the UK the safest place to live and work online. It acts as a bridge between industry and government, providing a unified source of advice, guidance and support on cyber security, including the management of cyber security incidents. During this session, Anna will share her career path so far, the NCSC’s role in UK cyber security policy, its own research function and how they collaborate with academia. 

Local Government: How to better engage and routes in

Speaker: Hayley Simms, Strategic Lead. London Borough of Islington

In this session, we will be joined by Hayley Sims, Strategic Lead for Policy and Equality at the London Borough of Islington and currently a CAPE Fellow and Alumni of the Local Government Association (LGA) graduate scheme, the National Graduate Development Program (NGDP). 

In her first few months at Islington, Hayley has contributed to the development of the Council's Strategic Plan ‘#IslingtonTogether: For a More Equal Future’ which has been produced in consultation with residents, community partners and Councilors, as well as helping to lead on the Council's COVID-19 response. Hayley will introduce the role and functions of local government, including how researchers, and academia more broadly, can better engage with local government, as well as explaining her career path so far and what her work entails. 

This session is chaired by Katrina Rattu, Policy Advisor in the International Public Policy Observatory (IPPO), who also has a background in Local Government and is a fellow Alumni of the LGA Graduate Scheme, the NGDP. If you’re not sure about what Local Government is, what they do and how to engage better with Councils then come along! 

Influencing the Environment Bill: experiences from the campaigning front line

Speaker: Dr Richard Benwell, Chief Executive, Wildlife and Countryside Link

Dr Benwell’s career has spanned Parliament, Government and several charities. He is now Chief Executive of the Wildlife and Countryside Link, the largest environment and wildlife coalition in England.  Join us to hear more about how third sector organisations shape policy and the changes environmental charities have been seeking in the Environment Bill.

European Commission: Science Advice and Pandemic Response

Speaker: Dr Gerjon Ikink, Scientific Policy Officer (Health Emergency Response and Vaccines) at European Commission

In this session we will be joined by Dr Gerjon Ikink, Scientific Policy Officer at the health department of the European Commission, working on health emergency response and vaccines. Before transferring here during the COVID-19 pandemic, he was working in the Commission as Scientific Advisor and Policy Officer in the Scientific Advice Mechanism, with the Group of Chief Scientific Advisors and the Special Advisor to the Commission President on the response to the coronavirus and COVID-19. Join us to hear more about Gerjon's career path and his role in the EU's science advice and pandemic response.

Government's Life Sciences Vision: how are long-term policy plans developed and implemented?

Speaker: Alex Mclaughlin, Office for Life Sciences

For this session, we will be joined by Alex Mclaughlin from the Government’s Office for Life Sciences (OLS), which is part of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The OLS champions research, innovation and the use of technology to transform health and care services with the aim to improve patient outcomes and support economic growth.

Alex will provide an overview of the Government’s recently published Life Sciences Vision, including how it was developed and plans for its implementation. The Life Sciences Vision is a 10-year plan to “stimulate a thriving UK life sciences sector” which also focuses on how the Government can address some of the UK’s most significant healthcare challenges, including cancer, dementia, and obesity. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with Alex during a Q&A led by Dr Steve Morris from UCL’s Future Vaccine Manufacturing Research Hub.